9 Sneaky Ways Restaurants Trick You Into Paying a Larger Check

All of us love to go out for a drink with friends, for coffee with colleagues, or on a date with a loved one. And after we’ve carefully picked the place, we might still be satisfied with the experience…until the check arrives. We are happy to tell you that this feeling may arise not because you are frugal but because of the venue you chose. Bright Side collected 9 ways restaurants trick you into receiving a larger check than you anticipated.

Menu design

Menus are designed to not only be pretty but to be pretty useful for the restaurant. They are made in such a way that you can’t compare the pricing on dishes with the same ingredients. They will simply be on different sides of the menu.

Vague portion sizes

A lot of restaurants avoid putting portion sizes on a menu, but a server has to share this information when asked. Also, do not fall into the “meat portion trap”: if the menu says that your steak will be 300 g, it must be 300 g on your plate when it’s cooked. Some restaurants count the meat’s mass before cooking (when it’s bigger), making you eventually order more food when you’re not satisfied with the first order.

No dollar signs

Many restaurants avoid putting dollar or euro signs on their menu because it makes you think about money, taking your focus away from the enticing foods.

Adjectives to kill

Speaking of enticing, have you ever noticed how appetizing a menu sounds? “Tender chicken!” and “A mouthwatering creation from our chef!” will always appeal to your senses and imagination. It will make you order differently and is a hidden form of advertising that gets you hooked.

Flashy brand names

“Jack Daniel’s BB sauce.” “Coca-Cola cocktail.” These names make you unintentionally think about the brands you like, and so you feel like you’ll love their food as well. Restaurants will use brand names to sell more of their dishes or push certain meals that would look boring otherwise.

Cold environment and lighting

It has been scientifically proven that people tend to eat 20% less food in an environment with dim lights and warm temperatures. A restaurant that wants to make more money will invest in bright lighting and climate control panels.

Multiple orders

Your server will start with the drinks order, then food. Then he’ll pass by your table several times and will be around you as much as possible because a constant reminder of his existence might pressure you into ordering more.

Highlighted items

No wonder there is a soup of the day or a special highlighted “homemade” product! Some of them are simply dishes that a restaurant needs to push, and a customer is more likely to order a “special dish” as it has a sort of halo effect.


There are very heated arguments about whether you should tip your server. Economically and financially it is not a very good practice. Relying on tips, restaurants underpay their servers, and customers are left with a math problem at the end of the evening. Depending on the country, it is believed that you should tip a server around 10%-15%. Also, some restaurants go as far as including the tip in your check without asking.

Dining out is a costly experience if you fall into these little traps. However, now you can enjoy your date or evening out without spending too much. Do you have your own tips? Share them with us in the comments!

Preview photo credit shutterstock